I’ve been coaching individuals and facilitating teams to unlock their potential for more years than I care to shake a stick at. And, like a dentist with bad teeth or a tailor with ill-fitting clothes, I appear to have failed to take my own advice just when I needed it most. And I’m only just realising (pretty dumb, huh?).
Just to recap, there are a few wise tenets that I believe in and that I often use with folks with whom I’m working. Note: these are not MY wise tenets as I don’t think I’m capable of creating such a thing. Instead, these are ‘borrowed with pride’ (I even borrowed that phrase) from wise people I have had the pleasure of knowing over the years.
One of the things I believe in (based on Otto Sharmer’s Theory U) is that we sometimes need to wallow in a ‘not knowing’ stage for a while before we get a real breakthrough. I don’t mean trying to find a solution to a small dilemma like what I should have for lunch; I’m talking about a dilemma that scores 7 out of 10 or larger. Breakthroughs of this size or complexity can’t be arrived at through logic alone. (In my case, nor can the lunch question, but that’s for another day). Finding a solution to a Big Dilemma needs a creativity that comes from processing at the unconscious level – the grown up version of being hit by the haha moment in the shower. To achieve a breakthrough for the BD, it helps to engage the unconscious, and stay in the ‘not knowing’ phase for a quite while where it’s uncomfortable, unfamiliar, and seriously unrewarding (in the moment). We task-oriented high achieving types need quite a bit of patience just to stay there, let alone wallow in it and for it to be productive. As responsible adults, not feeling like we’re making progress is deeply disturbing. But to achieve breakthrough, it’s a phase that needs to be celebrated and not skipped.
One other set of wise words (for now) is about following our dreams. If I had a pound – or currency of your choice – for every time I’ve recommended to someone that they get clear on what they want (like super clear, deep down in the gut, clear) and then step back and let the universe respond, I’d be super-yacht rich. Not that I’d spend my money on a super-yacht, mind you. You see, I do think that when we connect with something we’re ‘meant to do’ in life that makes the best use of our talents, we become enriched in all kinds of ways. But as we grow up, we lose sight of our dreams and instead, we take on the expectations that others have of us. If we can find a way to get back to what we really really want to do deep down, I believe that creativity and power become unleashed to make it a viable and rewarding life choice.
Make sense? Good, so back to my dilemma.
Here I was, at a cross-roads professionally and personally (and I’d been there for quite a time) ‘needing’ to move forward to the next stage. But it wasn’t happening. Instead, I found my creativity blocked and I was becoming stale, demotivated, losing confidence and just darn well miserable. Inside. On the outside, I was (I think) my usual self. But inside, I had lost my way. I had given myself some ‘exploration’ time but in reality, I was not making the most of it. I was just agitating and worrying that I wasn’t moving forward. Whoah, do you spot any patterns here?
As I fretted and fretted about not being able to move forward, it hit me: take your own medicine. And as I did, and I allowed myself to set my intention in the world and then step back, the fog began to clear. I gave myself permission to not know, and as I did so, I relaxed into making the most of that phase.
I’ve not quite reached the breakthrough moment and I still don’t have all the answers but I know that I’m on the path to finding them. It feels right. I feel energised again. I am thinking about people and situations and concepts that are not just focused on negative self-talk but contain seeds of possibility. I have started this next phase of the journey. Dear reader, will you come along with me?